An environmental activist and former employee of Mother Nature Cambodia has claimed that the Preah Sihanouk provincial administration lacks proper control of its sewage systems and waste is flowing directly into the sea.
A provincial officer has admitted weaknesses in waste management saying the authorities will take action to prevent construction sites dumping their waste in this manner.
In a three-minute video clip, activist Thon Ratha showed one of the 29 waste pipes he says is located on Ochheuteal Beach, even as the government said the area is one of the most beautiful in the world.
In the last few months, a number of posts have gone viral on Facebook showing the province’s upsurge of casinos, hotels and other entertainment activities built to service the dramatically increasing tourist population in the province.
“I think most people will ask the same questions, like what kind of material is contained in this wastewater? Will it cause health and environmental problems, especially to those swimming in the area?"
“I sent a sample of the polluted water to the laboratory at the Pasteur Institute, so the government could not accuse me of incitement or of causing social chaos. The result indicated that the polluted water came directly from toilets and had many parasites and bacteria that can cause many diseases."
Diseases in the water
“It included E coli, trich-omonas intestinalis, trophozoite and ammonia which came from human faeces and urine which will cause serious harm to swimmers, especially the elderly, children and pregnant women. The symptoms include diarrhoea, vomiting and stomach ache and can cause death Ratha said.
Preah Sihanouk provincial hall spokesperson and director of the province’s department of information Or Saroeun told The Post: “The polluted water did not come from hotel or construction sites alone, the waste was mixed with natural rainwater.
“The authorities and experts cannot completely control the sewage system or create facilities to separate the waste. We are working on this issue. We found seven locations which need improving immediately,” he said.
Saroeun said drastically increased land prices have resulted in landowners filling lakes and sewage facilities forcing polluted water to flow into the sea.
Plans to upgrade
After the facilities were inspected and assessed by government institutions, the Office of the Council of Ministers (OCM) issued a statement on November 8, signed by the secretary of state Chhit Sokhon, approving plans to upgrade and add capacity to water treatment facilities in Preah Sihanouk province.
The Ministry of Public Works and Transport will execute the plan which will take three to five months to complete.
The National Committee for the Management and Development of the Coastal Zone, the Ministry of Public Works and Transport and Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities will install four water treatment facilities at Independence Beach, O’Samat, Sokha Beach and Ochheuteal, transferring all wastewater in those areas to water treatment facilities, preventing dirty water flowing into the sea.
The statement said construction sites must be surrounded by fences 80cm high to prevent waste escaping onto roads, beaches, lakes and public areas.